I think taxes really stink. And it’s not because I think no taxes should be paid. I love smooth paved roads! I love having someone come rescue me if my house is on fire! I appreciate that the government isn’t allowing poison in candy anymore. (Kind of upset that they needed to make a law about it, though….)
What I hate about taxes is how FREAKING HARD THEY ARE TO FIGURE OUT. I am pretty smart. I can read. I have a dictionary. I have the internet. I have no idea what tax words mean and I am terrified of interpreting them wrong. I got audited one year and it was so embarrassing and terrible (and what a stigma!) I am a good person! Why do I need an audit? Don’t they trust me?! (No. They don’t. And I did my taxes wrong. So that is why I got audited.)
So here are two things to think about as tax season comes around:
1. You know how I am your personal finance guru, with all the answers about everything to do with your money? I have tens of thousands of admirers around the globe and I have helped a gajillion people get their finances in order? I have been audited (described above. An emotionally traumatic experience). So when I started writing for Investopedia and my paychecks didn’t have taxes taken out, I knew I had to pay some sort of independent worker tax but I had no idea how much or to who and I didn’t know where the paperwork was. I knew I would be penalized if I just ignored it (and I hate paying fees!). So I put it off from March to DECEMBER 27. That is a lot of procrastination. And I have a relative who works in tax-things who told me which form to get! (It’s this one, in case you were wondering). I had no excuse at all, except that I was scared of doing something wrong again and embarrassed that I didn’t know what to do (given my status as an international financial whiz).
So, it’s completely normal for you to be scared and embarrassed about not knowing about taxes. Unless it’s your job, it’s kind of lame to have all the answers about taxes. But we still have to pay them, and this year is a good year to get over your fear! Why? How? Glad you asked.
2. The IRS has a set of really great volunteers who will help you do your taxes. FOR FREE! You don’t have to know all the answers because these lovely people do! I started volunteering as a financial coach with a number of these folks in my state and let me tell you, they are smart and sharp, funny and kind people. They have also seen everything there is to see in terms of rough tax preparation, so you don’t have anything to be embarrassed about. You get hand holding during the tax prep process, you get to meet some nice, capable people, and you don’t have to live in shame and fear like me.
I hope this makes everyone’s tax season a little less scary. Fingers crossed for an audit-free 2015!